Battling Abortion in Bolivia

Covert Attempt to Legalize Abortion

Abortion has long been illegal in Bolivia except in cases of rape, incest and the mother’s “health.” But on the United Nation’s so-called International “Safe” Abortion Day, September 28, 2017,  the Chamber of Deputies covertly decriminalized abortion.  The bill alters Bolivia’s Penal Code, with Key Article 153 changed to favor abortion. For now abortion still remains a criminal offense. Before pro-abortion forces can succeed, the bill still needs next to pass the Chamber of the Senate and finally would have to be signed by the President of Bolivia. To clarify, these two chambers of parliament are known collectively as Bolivia’s Plurinational Legislative Assembly.

The Plurinational Legislative Assembly bill violates Bolivia’s Constitution in Articles 15, 16, 48 and 60, as well as other laws of the country, such as the General Law for Persons with Disabilities, Article 6, The Penal Code of Families, Article 28, the Child-Girl Adolescent Penal Code, Articles 5, 6 and 24, and others. Those who passed the bill are government representatives with ties to well-financed pro-abortion NGOs such as CIES (International Planned Parenthood’s local affiliate), Marie Stopes, IPAS, CEDAW, NiUna Less, UN Women, UNFPA, etc. These groups lie and misinform Bolivians about the truth of abortion.

Plurinational Legislative Assembly Acted Illegally

No quorum present in the Chamber of Deputies, which still approved decriminalizing abortion.

Pro-life forces state the Plurinational Legislative Assembly illegally passed the measure without the required legal quorum. They allege there were only 54 deputies present out of 130 total, and argue the government falsified the figure, saying 67 deputies were accounted for. Several  members of the political party, “Movement toward Socialism” (MAS), requested additional time to review and study these issues in depth but were ignored by the Assembly.

According to the bill, a woman would be eligible for an abortion in the first 8 weeks if:

  • the pregnant woman is a student, and if she is either in charge of elderly adults with disabilities, or in charge of other related minors.
  • the abortion prevents a present or future risk to the pregnant woman’s life or integral health, if there is a fetal malformation incompatible with life, if the pregnancy is a consequence of assisted reproduction not consented to by the woman, if the pregnancy is a consequence of rape or incest, or if the pregnant person is a girl or a teenager.

“We hope the Senate has a conscience…”

During previous months hundreds of thousands of Bolivians have protested against just such a move. In one six-week period, 157,000 protest letters were signed and submitted to the government, arguing against any change in the abortion law. A total 300,000 persons participated in marches for iife in several cities over previous months. Nevertheless, the Assembly ignored all this, moving ahead with its pro-abortion agenda.


May 23rd march for life against decriminalizing abortion

Pro-lifers have not thrown in the towel. Some Assembly members submitted a letter, requesting reconsideration of Article 153 to the President of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly, and await a reply. Their letter stated, “We continue to work in the hope that the Senate has a conscience and will evaluate all scientific, social and spiritual information presenting the scope of legal abortion in our society.”

Pro-abortion MAS party representative, Ms. Susana Rivero, who heads the Constitutional Commission, was ruthless in promoting the abortion bill. Rivero said, “Approving these clauses opens the door to legalization of abortion on demand in Bolivia. Progress is gradually being made in the decriminalization of abortion.” Ms. Rivero refused to let pro-lifers speak at the public hearing for the Commission while giving pro-abortion organizations ample time. Pro-lifers witnessed video of this pro-abortion testimony, which is how they discovered the other side was allowed unfairly to present their case for “hours.” When the President of the Assembly recommended putting forth only two articles promoting abortion, Rivero insisted on nine; she is said to be the main promoter in the Assembly on abortion.

Pro-lifer Elisa Lanza, President of Platform for Life and Family of Le Paz, said, “During the night of September 28, 2017, we vigilantly prayed outside parliament. We were not allowed to enter despite the cold, with guards and police surrounding us, not even allowed to hold up a sign. Yet we still hoped for a miracle. When we received the bad news it caused us overwhelming pain. This was an illegal, covert legislative action carried out at the expense of death of the innocent.”

Platform for Life and Family members during its vigil Sept 28, 2017

“Both lives are worthy”

“We still have confidence that God, Lord of Life, is on our side,” continued Elisa Lanza, “and this strengthens and encourages us to go on. We are planning a new draft article on abortion for the new penal code. And we pro-lifers will also continue to demonstrate and launch a national campaign, called #LasDosVidasvalen. In Spanish, this means, “both lives are worthy”, as we support the mother and child in the womb.”

Elisa Lanza, National Coordinator of ANE Provida Bolivia and President of the Platform for Life and the Family of La Paz, Bolivia contributed this report.

About Deborah M. Piroch

Deborah M. Piroch graduated from Mount Holyoke College, the nation’s oldest women’s college, with a double major in German and English Literature. She studied abroad and earned her M.A. in English Literature from Indiana University. Fluent in German, she began her career in international journalism working for Radio Deutsche Welle in Cologne, Germany. Returning to the States after a three-year contract, she worked as arts reporter and producer on prime time shows for WQED-FM in Pittsburgh, then a top 20 market. After another three years, she was hired by EWTN Global Catholic Network as news director, anchor and writer for “Catholic World Today,” but soon transitioned into television. Highlights of her 15 years at EWTN include co-anchoring the U.S. March for Life with Marcus Grodi on more than one occasion, live translating the election of Pope Benedict XVI into German, interviewing two former U.S. Presidential candidates and producing Father Benedict Groeschel’s prime time program from its inception for six years. Named the Network’s first International Production Coordinator, she also proposed, budgeted and executed TV shoots in Scotland, England, Norway, Sweden and Germany. Most recently she served as Director of PR for Human Life International.

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